FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
EFSEC Hears 16 Hours of Testimony, Largely Opposition, from 1,300 People Over the Course of Two Hearings Outside of Vancouver
Jan. 13, 2016 (Vancouver, WA) – After sixteen hours of testimony with over 1,300 people in attendance over the course of two hearings – the vast majority expressing strong opposition to the proposed Tesoro Savage oil terminal – Washington’s Energy Council will hold a final hearing in Spokane Valley this Thursday. The Council will make a recommendation to Governor Inslee, who has the final authority to deny the oil terminal. A diverse group of Vancouver business owners, labor leaders, conservation groups, tribal nations, physicians, faith leaders, students and others oppose the project, citing concerns about climate change, health, safety, oil spills and local jobs.
“Along with my peers, I’ve worked hard through a recession to build a business and a vibrant downtown. I don’t want to live or do business in a dirty oil town,” said Chris Read of Arnada Naturals in Vancouver. Read spoke as a member of Vancouver 101, a group of over 100 Vancouver businesses who oppose the oil terminal in Vancouver.
“The oil terminal would be an economic cancer on our community. The way small business would feel the impact of the terminal and 15 million gallons of crude each day is by slowly losing their customers who no longer want to live here. Some businesses would leave the city, others would choose not to come here, and every time that happens we lose those owners and their employees as our customers,” said Hector Hinojosa, owner of JoFoody Catering in Vancouver.
Testimony at the hearings revolved around repeated, devastating oil train derailments that have prompted alarm in communities all along the proposed rail route, including the Columbia River Gorge.
“Firefighters in the Gorge are not equipped and not prepared for oil train derailments. The Gorge Commission has resolved that oil transport poses an unacceptable risk to the health, safety, and environment of the Columbia River Gorge,” stated Gorham Blaine, a member of the Gorge Commission.
“There is no defensible reason for putting people at this level of risk. Tesoro’s project represents a huge public health liability,” said Laura Skelton, Executive Director of Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility.
Dozens of speakers urged Washington’s Energy Council to deny the project because of its enormous climate pollution including the youngest group of testifiers from a Portland middle school.
“I am a 5th grader. This is climate change right here, and now and we have a choice to say no,” said Annie Sallinger, an 11-year-old student at Sunnyside Environmental School.
With Congress lifting the crude oil export ban, stopping the massive proposed oil terminal has taken on added importance to the Stand Up to Oil coalition. Tesoro Savage would ship almost half as much crude oil as the Keystone XL pipeline, using trains rather than through a pipeline. Tesoro would offload the trains onto large oil tanker ships to sail over the notorious Columbia River bar to the Pacific Ocean.
“Every train that comes down the Columbia River is like playing Russian roulette,” said Dan Serres, Conservation Director of Columbia Riverkeeper. “And Tesoro’s proposal would add more bullets to the gun, dramatically increasing the risk of an oil train disaster on the Columbia River.”
The Tesoro Savage proposal is opposed by the Vancouver City Council, Vancouver Firefighters Union IAFF Local 452, ILWU Local 4, Columbia Waterfront LLC, the City of Portland, the Columbia River Inter-tribal Fish Commission, the sportfishing community, the environmental community, and people from all walks of life across the Northwest.
MORE INFORMATION: The third hearing will be held on: Thursday, January 14, 2016, 5:00-11:00PM (rally at 4:30pm), at Centerplace Regional Event Center located at 2426 N. Discovery Place, Spokane Valley, WA 99216.
STAND UP TO OIL is a growing coalition of groups opposed to new oil terminals and an increase in oil transport through the Northwest, while working to improve safety measures for oil currently traveling through the region.